Redheads & Ranchers Book 2
My new Redheads & Ranchers series is a collection of three stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring hot redheads and the ranchers who can’t resist them. The first book, JENNY’S VOICE, launched in February to 5-Star reviews.
The second book, HUNTER’S PRIDE, comes out early this summer. It’s the story of Hunter McFall, the fifth generation of his family to ranch cattle in the Idaho foothills. A real estate developer out of New York City is offering him a huge sum of money to sell a parcel of his land. They want to use it to build a road to their proposed luxury mountain resort.
But Hunter’s having none of it. He doesn’t want some fancy hotel attracting scores of rich tourists to his quiet community, much less a road across his ranch taking them there.
When the developers send their attorney to Idaho to explain their offer in person, Hunter’s ready to turn him down flat. Only he’s a she. Poppy Chastain. The prettiest, sexiest, red-haired spitfire he’s seen in a long time.
Here’s a teaser from HUNTER’S PRIDE.
“Alright, are you ready?” Hunter asked.
Poppy nodded. “Sure.”
He squinted at her slightly. “The sunglasses are a good idea, but do you have a hat?”HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks
She shook her head. “No hat. I didn’t even think about it.”
He reached for her hand and gently ran his thumb across the back of it. “How about sunblock?”
Again, she shook her head. “Nope. And I tan like a redheaded Irish girl,” she giggled.
“Let’s at least see what we can do about finding you a hat, anyway.”
A quick search of the barn yielded an old brown straw cowboy hat with a brim that curled up at the sides. It was a little too big for Poppy, but its braided drawstring beneath her chin held it in place.
Hunter stepped back to take in the full effect and gave a satisfied nod. “That’s not too bad. If you were going to be here longer, we’d see about getting you some proper footwear.”
She gave an impish shrug. “Not a fan of the cow poo shoes and now you’re hating on the Chucks?”
He laughed. “They’re fine, as long as you don’t get stepped on. Are you ready to meet your trusty steed for today’s adventure?”
She nodded, and he led her to the smaller of the two horses. It was dark, but with a shimmery grey cast and a steel-grey mane and tail. The horse eyed Poppy curiously.
“Oh, aren’t you pretty?” She reached to gently stroke the horse’s smooth coat. “What’s his name?”
“Her name,” he raised an eyebrow, “is Widowmaker.”
Poppy’s gaze snapped up to his, her deep brown eyes impossibly wide.
The look on her face was priceless and it was all Hunter could do not to laugh out loud. He allowed himself a boyish grin. “Nah, I’m playing with you. She’s Duffy. She’s a blue roan.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” she muttered, lavishing the horse with an affectionate rub. “Hello, Duffy. How sweet are you?”
“Keep that up, you’ll have a friend for life,” Hunter laughed. “Want to give her a carrot?”
Grinning, Poppy fed a carrot to her horse while Hunter did the same with his. “What’s the name of yours?” she asked.
“This is Cheyenne. She’s a bay I picked up at an auction a few years ago.”
“She’s very pretty, too. How many horses do you have?”
Hunter looked thoughtful for a moment. “Right now, we have seven. But we sell some and buy some all the time. I’m a sucker for a mustang and I usually go to the auctions when they have them.”
He removed Cheyenne’s reins from the rail and led her away from the barn, then looked back at Poppy. “Can you get up or do you need help?”
“I can manage,” she said confidently.
Hunter watched as she brought the reins over Duffy’s head, gripped them in her left hand along with a hank of the horse’s mane, and stretched up to put her left foot in the stirrup. With her right hand gripping the right side of the saddle’s pommel, she bounced once and lifted herself up, swinging her right leg over and into position.
She gave Hunter a smug look. “Not too shabby for a city girl.”
“Not too shabby at all,” he grinned. He swung himself up on Cheyenne. “Alright. Let’s go.”
Together, they headed out in the direction Rolly had taken earlier. In no time at all they caught up with the old man. He was chatting with two younger men. The three of them looked up as Hunter and Poppy approached.
“Hey there, Hunter. Rolly just told me about all the shit…” He looked at Poppy. “Excuse me, ma’am, all the manure up in front of the barn. Some of the heifers must have wandered over there in the night. I’ll get right on it.”
“Thanks, Hoyt. By the way, this is Ms. Chastain. Poppy that’s Hoyt Johnson and Wes Napier. Between them and Rolly, they keep this place running.”
“Aw, don’t let him fool you,” Rolly laughed. “Hunter’s like all the McFalls. They’re hands-on when it comes to this place.”
“Alright, gents, we’ll leave you to it. We’re heading up to the north end.”
“Have a good ride, then,” Wes said. All three men nodded as Hunter and Poppy moved on toward the open pasture.
As they rode, Hunter occasionally glanced Poppy’s way. She was looking all around and taking in the scenery, seemingly comfortable sitting on top of Duffy. Of course, he’d chosen the horse for her even temperament and gentle nature. But he could tell that at some point in her life, Poppy had in fact ridden before.
“You said you were a Girl Scout.”
She turned to smile at him. “I was. Back in the day.”
“And that’s where you learned to ride?”
Poppy nodded. “The local Girl Scout camp was open for groups in the off-season. You know, adults would come up for retreats and stuff. They needed people who were available to come up and run the stables and riding sessions. A group of us went up there and learned how to teach lessons.”
Hunter smiled, imagining a young Poppy Chastain running adult riding sessions. “Where was this? New York?”
She laughed. “No, I moved to New York for grad school. I grew up in Lenoir City, Tennessee.”
At his blank look, she laughed again. “It’s basically Knoxville. Right there in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.”
“I thought I detected a twang now and then.”
She gave him a sidelong look. “Who has a twang? Who was the one yesterday talking about the dot com?”
He had to laugh. “I was just messing with the city lawyer.”
They rode along in comfortable silence. Overhead, a hawk circled lazily as it scouted for its next meal. The occasional bovine they passed either looked up at them incuriously or ignored them completely.
Poppy looked at Hunter. “How many cows do you have, anyway?”
“Cows?” He frowned thoughtfully. “Well in all, we have about 1,500 cattle. Of that number, I’d say roughly about half of them are cows.”
“Oh, I forgot, cows are just the girl ones. And the rest are bulls?”
He shook his head. “Oh, no, we couldn’t keep up with that many bulls. We have two good bulls right now. The others are steers.”
Hunter nodded. “They’re castrated as calves. You know, we—”
She winced and held up her hand. “I get it, sheesh! Poor little cows. I mean, bulls.”
He laughed. “Then of the females, we have a handful of heifers. They haven’t had their first calves yet. I like keeping the pregnant heifers up by the house and barn this time of year. The experienced ones do okay out in the pasture, but for the first-timers, I prefer keeping them close, just in case.”
“Oh. Those are the ones who pooped all over. And they’re ready to have their babies?”
He nodded. “I’m surprised we didn’t have one this morning.”
“That’s so cool,” she grinned.
They rode up a slight ridge and Hunter stopped. The land in front of them stretched out wide and flat. Spring-green grasses waved in the gentle breeze and the tableau was dotted with cattle, all heads down and grazing.
Poppy sighed softly. “This is beautiful. The blue sky, the white fluffy clouds, the green spread out below. And just listen.”
They both did, hearing nothing beyond the breeze whispering through the grass or the chirp of a bird.
She turned to Hunter. “All this is your land.”
He nodded. “What you’re looking at now is the parcel your company wants to buy.”
Poppy blinked hard as the serene scene shifted in her imagination. The waving grass was replaced by asphalt lanes, the quiet shattered by the roar of traffic, honking horns, squealing tires.
“The thing is, the parcel they’re talking about doesn’t go to the property line. I’d have land on the other side of the highway. How am I supposed to get my cattle over there? They want to buy 2,000 acres, but they’d be rendering another 5,000 acres useless.” He turned to Poppy, his voice soft. “You can see why I just can’t sell.”
She frowned in thought. “Maybe they could raise the roadway so your cattle can go under. That might work. Or what if they moved their parcel to the end of your property? Eliminated the need for you to cross the highway?”
His smile was gentle. “I’d still have to say no.”
Poppy sighed heavily. “What borders you on the other side? Maybe those people would be willing to sell a few acres. All we need is enough for an access road.”
“It’s preserve for miles and miles.” He tilted his head. “I’ve been wondering, who buys acreage in the mountains without owning the rights to access the property? Seems kind of short-sighted to me.”
She shrugged. “Those decisions are above my pay grade.”
He watched her for a moment. “I want to show you another place.”
They rode east toward the foothills. As they went along, Poppy thought about what Hunter had said. There had to be a solution that would work for everyone. She just needed to find it.
After a quarter of an hour, they came to a river. She heard it before she saw it, water rushing over weather-smoothed rocks. It didn’t seem to be deep, but the current was swift. She looked at Hunter questioningly.
“Where we’re going is on the other side of the river.”
Her eyes widened. “You mean we have to ride across?”
He nodded. “It’s shallow enough. The water’s moving fast, but you just keep going and don’t stop.”
Beneath her, Duffy sighed. “I don’t know, Hunter.”
He gave her a reassuring smile. “You’ve got this. Besides, Duffy’s an old pro.”
Unconvinced, Poppy pursed her lips.
Hunter laughed. “I promise, it’ll be fine. I’m taking you to see the summer pasture in the mountains. We’ll be taking the whole herd across this river in a couple of months.”
“You’re not going to chicken out, are you?” His hazel eyes glinted with challenge and humor.
Poppy sat up straighter. “I never chicken out. I just don’t see the point in taking unnecessary risks.”
Hunter suppressed a grin and his hazel eyes sparkled. “Real life begins on the other side of unnecessary risks.”
With that, he guided Cheyenne toward the water. “Just follow me and you’ll be fine. Be sure to take your feet out of the stirrups, just in case,” he called over his shoulder.
She nodded. “Great. That’s just… Wait, just in case of what?” Reluctantly, she nudged Duffy in the direction Hunter had gone. When she looked up, he’d stopped on a sandbar in the middle of the river and was watching her.
“That’s right,” he nodded, “you’re doing great.”
When she’d nearly caught up to him, he continued to the other bank where he stood waiting for her. Poppy risked a glance down. Duffy seemed sure-footed enough, and the water barely came up to the horse’s knee in the deepest places. Still, her heart pounded, and she realized she was gripping the reins for dear life. Finally, the horse stepped out of the water and made her way up the bank.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”